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Olympic Torch route worry is verging on the ridiculous

PUBLISHED: 01:42 26 June 2012 | UPDATED: 01:48 26 June 2012

Uncut verge beside the A149 near Thorpe Market with a wealth of wildflowers. Photo: David Spencer.

Uncut verge beside the A149 near Thorpe Market with a wealth of wildflowers. Photo: David Spencer.

Archant

It's easy to be judgmental - heaven knows I've made a career out of it - but I can't remember the last time I spotted an unruly verge and thought to myself: "that's Norfolk's reputation done for".

Councillors have been warned that the state of Norwich’s grass verges could be an embarrassment to the city when the Olympic Torch passes through next week.

“Will you look at the verge on that!” the rest of the country will say, “I had planned to visit Norfolk and plough my entire disposable income into its local economy, but now I’ve seen the shameful verges, I shall think again and go to Bournemouth where the verges are an enduring delight.”

As part of its efforts to save cash, Norwich City Council has slashed the number of times grass verges are cut from once every two weeks to five times a year.

In doing so, it has effectively broken the spirit of the entire Olympics.

No one is going to be concentrating on the men’s 100m now: all they’ll be able to think about is the state of Norwich’s verges. I am ashamed to be from Norwich: the city means nothing to me now.

The grass-cutting cost-cutting has saved the city £40,000 a year, but, according to Green councillors: “This has affected the overall appearance of the city and could be said to be a cause of some potential embarrassment, for instance, ahead of the Olympic Torch coming to Norwich.”

This is an implicit suggestion that the Olympic Torch is so boring that people watching its procession around the country are more interested in the state of the nation’s grass verges than the worthy tracksuit-wearer with the flaming stick.

To be fair, I am more interested in the verges than the flaming stick, but this has more to do with being sick to the back teeth of the Olympics than being some kind of furtive grass fancier.

I’d personally prefer the Olympic Torch relay to build into a triumphant Wicker Man finale involving a gigantic cat basket on top of Beeston Bump with Seb Coe inside it and Cathy Dennis singing Sumer Is Icumen In while couples copulate openly in fields, children discuss the phallic importance of the maypole and toads are placed in mouths to cure whooping cough.

That’d put Norfolk on the map, and no one would notice that we haven’t been attending to our grassy knolls and verges or if they did, it’d be to note the progress of our crops to see if the plan to make a human (well, Seb Coe) sacrifice to appease the Gods was entirely justified.

In other news, I shall ensure that my own verge is neatly-trimmed in time for the Olympics. I might even have five rings cut in to try and get into the spirit of things, although my Caesarean scar is somewhat restrictive when it comes to large-scale intimate topiary.

* This column is dedicated to Donna Chapman, whose interest in verges verges on the insane.

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